JP in Congress pantheon!

JP remembered in a Congress do! Sounds unbelievable?

But it did happen, and, not during an ordinary event, but on the occasion of laying the foundation stone for the party’s new headquarters that is to be named after Indira Gandhi, who had faced the toughest challenge from JP and his Total Revolution in the 1970s.

And the person who almost put JP on the Congress pantheon is no ordinary party activist either — Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit. And she did it in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Sheila was delivering the vote of thanks at the Congress’ 125th Foundation Day function at Kotla Road on December 28.

After thanking Dr Singh, Sonia and other luminaries, the Delhi chief minister startled all when she also expressed her gratitude to ‘Jai Prakash Narayan Ji’. But she soon realised her mistake. She then made it clear that she had in fact wanted to refer to Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Jai Prakash Agarwal, who was also on the podium.

As the audience broke into laughter; Sheila smilingly said: “I had to make you laugh also. Isn’t it?”

Anirban Bhaumik, New Delhi

In Jharkhand, anything goes

It seems, everything is fair in Jharkhand politics. For, unexpected has virtually become a norm here. Known to be ideologically poles apart, they were at each other’s loggerhead and, numerically, occupied the centre-stage of politics by emerging the largest blocks after the state’s creation and then in its maiden assembly elections in 2005.

The largest pre-poll block NDA (BJP: 30, JD-U: 6) in opposition benches, second, third and fourth largest parties (JMM: 17, Congress: 9 and RJD: 7) supporting the government from outside and an Independent at the helm. No kidding, Madhu Koda has his name in the Limca Book of Records for heading a government by an Independent for the longest span in India.

Quite glaringly, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) stumbled upon one of the country’s largest scam involving an individual in which former CM Madhu Koda is alleged to have  acquired disproportionate assets worth about Rs 2,000 crore.

But what appears to be a saga of foes turning friends graciously, now the JMM-headed government has been installed with its arch rival BJP and AJSU now following a coalition ‘dharma’.

There is no end to surprises in the new state. On December 30, Soren was sworn in as the seventh chief minister of Jharkhand, formed only nine years ago. The average survival rate of a government here has been just 16 months.

Sandeep Bhaskar, Ranchi

Britney mania

Did Britney Spears spend New Year in God’s Own Country? None knows whether the rumours had any substance. From the feel of it and the troubles that the cops, scribes and TV crews took for two days running to 2010, the item girl may not have made it.
Over two dozen camera-wielding paparazzi had descended on Alappuzha, the seat of backwater tourism, to catch a glimpse of Britney after a new agency reported that she might celebrate New Year in a houseboat there.

Forget the fact that no confirmation was forthcoming from any quarter, the paparazzi brigade still scoured the backwaters and the numerous resorts that dot the area for the pop icon, but with no luck. Excitement grew when a VIP houseboat, with five star facilities like swimming pool, surfaced in the backwaters. Despite the driver of the boat denying there was any VVIP on board, the scribes refused to stop tailing it. Finally, it was only when the boat berthed and the passengers left that it began to dawn on them that they may have been taken for a ride by some smart alec.

R Gopakumar, Thiru’puram

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